tv Quadriga - The International Talk Show LINKTV June 22, 2017 7:00pm-7:31pm PDT
europe are preparing to bid farewell to a leader who served longer than any german chancellor since bismarck. shaping post-war history in europe as few others have. helmut kohl will be r remembere for two achievements beyond all else as chancellor when the wall fell he was the architect of german reunification and as a committed european he forged deeper european integration. paving the way for the euro. yes, the momentum has faltered in recent years. as a result of multiple e.u. crises.
kohl's europe is his legacy threatened? that's what i want to talk about with my guests here today. it's a pleasure to wewelcome a freelance journal i who reports on economics and on e.u. issues. and she has done that reporting for a number of germany's major newspapers kwlug the financial times deutschland and helmut kohl brought europe together and keeping it together will be more than franco german friendship. and great to have alan posner back on the show. he's an author and commentator for the german daily newspaper deweldt and said angela merkel squandered kohl's legacy. macron's victory gives her a chance to repair the damage. a warm welcome to anthony patterson. he reports from germany for the british daily newspaper the independent. and he was here in berlin working for the b.b.c. when the wall fell. he says helmut kohl has reasons nough to turn in his grache.
-- grache. i know -- grave. you met helmut kohl personally when you were just getting started in your career as an economic journalist. what springs to mind when you think of him? what occurred to you first when you heard about his death? >> well, i was surprised by how present he was as just a figure -- as a chancellor and somebody who was only present in the room without doing something. just presenting something. melinda: not least because of his enormous size, right? >> yes. that was the case. but the other point was that he schuss and going into details and wasn't interested at all in economics. but i found surprising so he was interested in the big things, of policy, politics,
but not in the details of doing economics of how does the labor market or things like that? so that was surprising to me. melinda: tony patterson, helmut kohl in his remarks quoted -- or in his memoirs quoted a remark by margaret thatcher at a state dinner less than a month after the fall of the berlin wall. when he had just presented his very first concept for german reunification. and she is said to have remarked, quote, we beat the germans twice and now they're back. strong resistance at that time for his plan to reunify germany. how did he manage to convince her? is that one of his major achievements as our report said at the beginning? >> absolutely. i think that one of the reasons was that he got george bush on his side at the time. and george bush being america had more to say than margaret thatcher. but that said, i think what's left without doubt, we have now
the best germany that's ever been as a result of helmut kohl. and arguably the best europe. so those are two big things that helmut kohl has done. but then we come to the fine detail and the situation now. and a lot of things have gone wrong. but basically i think is a starting point, wewe have those two things. melinda: those two things were deeply linked in the mind of helmut kohl himself. we have a quote from him that pretty much sums up the words that he used to convince the skeptics when it came t to germ unification. >> let us be good neighbors and dependable partners. let us remain german europeans and european germans. then we'll have good prospects for a future in peace and freedom. melinda: alan posner, you said in your opening statement that
chancellor kohl squandered -- sorry. you said that chancellor merkel squandered kohl's legacy. she was in fact mentored by helmut kohl. she would not be where she is today if it were not for him. which she subscribed -- would she subscribe to those words we heard from him in regard to the fact that we need to be european germans and german europeans? >> oh, yes, willingly describes anything anyone says, you know. the question is, how has she acted? the fact is the two chancellors since kohl, gerhart schroeder and angela merkel, have both been german nationalists first and europeans second and that's why europe is in the fix it is today. think it's clear for gerhard schroeder, the previous -- the social democratic chancellor, he was an anti-american, anti- moscow ist flirted with
and although merkel attacked him, basically her policy within europe has always been germany first. and we're seeing the results. one of the results is brexit. another result is the crisis of the euro. and you can go through with this. kohl has not done what demanded to be european germens and german europeans. it has been always germany first. let's -- you know, try to model europe on german lines. and that hasn't worked. and that's led to this terrible fix that you are describing. melinda: angela merkel will speak at the upcoming funeral for the former chancellor, helmut kohl. which in fact will be the first-ever e.u. level state memorial. which e.u. officials are saying is justified because of the former chancellor's extraordinary services to the integration of europe.
let's take closer look at kohl's europe. shortly after helmut kohl ended his tenure as chancellor, he was made an honorary citizen of europe. he's one of only three europeans to receive this distinction. kohl's guiding political principles were peace and freedom. peace deeply affected by the loss of his brother and world war ii, kohl was a committed champion of lasting reconcnciliation with france, symbolized by this gesture with francois mitterrand. he saw german-french relations as the heart and driving force ehind a peaceful europe. freedom, kohl was instrumental in the ratification of the maastricht treaty paving the way for the single european urrency, the euro. and in the interests of the
political liberty of all europeans, long before the e.u.'s eastward expansion took place, kohl held talks with leaders of eastern european candidate countries. peace and freedom in europe are cosm's political priorities still -- kohl's political priorities still valid today? melinda: let's start with the priority he placed on the franco-german partnership. in fact, it has often been described as the motor of europe. but that motor didn't suddenly start up when helmut kohl became chancellor. to what degree did he qualitatively change those ties? ursula was the bonds we saw in the report unique to something he did as leader? >> i think there are lines to e seen between helmut kohl and mitterrand did the same thing with poland. if you look at both nations which were most -- most
affected by german imperialism, land and france, you see the temptations to not to find reconciliation on the one hand and on the other hand to try to establish something like friendship, something like doing things together and making progress together. so that is the single point of the -- helmut kohl did. and began. so if you look at franco-german elationship, they started with -- in the 1950's. but they intensified and came together to something like a common understanding of the way europe would have to find the way germany and france would go forward into a unified europe. that is something which is
deeply connected to helmut kohl. melinda: alan posner, kohl was known for cultivating personal ties as we heard from tony patterson to george bush to certainly to mitterrand. he was known to love long, copious meals with foreign leaders including, for example, bill clinton who will speak at his funeral. angela merkel is a great deal more distant than that. would a different leadership style have made a difference to the outcome during the recent years of crisis? >> no. i don't think it's a question of angela merkel's leadership style. she leads by telephone. not by eating, rather disgusting meals in a bungalow in southern germany as kohl did. no, it's not the leadership style. it's the leadership substance. and kohl always realized -- ursula just said that recently that he didn't care for the details of economics. he had the big picture in mind.
and he knew that the big problem was this 18 million germans in the center of europe. you need counterbalances if you're -- if europe isn't going to fall apart. and he worked on that all the time. the main counterbalance was the euro. under merkel we've seen the euro become instead of a method of counterbalancing german strength, a means of increasing german strength and predominance. and that is the problem. and that doesn't go away by having meals. that only goes away by changing economic policy. >> it isn't only germany being the reason for a different europe than we had the one with helmut kohl. so if you look at eastern -- eastern europe, they don't have the euro. but they have different interests and different ways of understanding how europe would and should work. so it is not only germany. the problem is that -- neither germany nor france had an idea how to cope with that. and how to bring together all this different views on europe
and especially the british view on europe which is -- which is a real problem. and it is not the problem that germany has done all these things. the problem is that nobody had an idea how to take a lead and how to get out of it. >> helmut kohl certainly took a lead. and one can argue that in 1989, he was forced to because the wall fell and he had to take a posisition. and by december, 1989, he was talking about german reunification. and one of his pet slogans was german reunification and european unions, two sides of the same coin. and so in many respects, he was forced into this position. if he opted for german reunification, then he was forced to opt for european unification. now, one can argue the whole thing went far too fast that too many countries became involved. and that the euro, too many
countries in particular greece got the euro and they weren't actually able to cope with it. hence, the disaster, i.e., the whole thing was too rushed. and helmut kohl was very instrumental in forcing the pace on europe. melinda: let me ask you this. certainly the threat of implosion of the e.u. itself, due to brexit, was something that helmut kohl deeply deplored. >> yes. melinda: would different leadership during the past years of crisis have been able to ward that off? >> it's a very difficult question. i think that if one -- it's a question of national governmements talking about europe in a way that is understandable to the electorate and in britain, that failed. and to a certain extent, it failed in germany. because it's always been sold in germany as something which is almost unquestionable being part of the european union, losing one's german national identity, and becoming more
european. and the economics have gone hand in hand with that in many -- many ways. seeing that germany has become pre-eminent in economic force in europe. and as you were saying, that they've got too much power. melinda: alan posner, you said yourself, the absolute priority to the politics of european integration and essentially assume that the economics would take care of themselves. can't the birth defect that he ignored essentially be seen as the root of the problems today? >> yes. all -- if you induce a common currency without economic union, you're heading for disaster. problems no, the that this currency will create will force us to integrate more deeply. now, this is the problem we're
seeing. the problems came. and the result and the answer would have been deep integration and the question was how? and the germans under merkel decided that we're going to teach the greeks a lesson. we're going to teach those pesky mediterraneans a lesson and become hard-working, hard currency northern country. and this gave the already shaky foundation the final kick. now, that -- this was -- kohl would have been completely different. he always realized that you have to make concessions. and in the end it's germany's deep pockets which keep the euro zone together. he realized it. and he knew european policy integration has to go further. and it will have to go further or the currency will fall apart. >> you wouldn't have any support for deeper integration politically in france and in northern europe --
>> just elected a president who says nothing else in france. >> now they did. but five years before, 10 years before, in the euro crisis and financial crisis, there wouldn't -- there wouldn't have been any support for that. melinda: i wanted to come back in just a moment to pro-european sentiment right now. but just one more question on this economic asymmetry within the euro zone that kohl helped to create. in the end, haven't developments proven margaret thatcher right to some degree in the sense that that economic asymmetry has become the basis for renewed german domination? in europe? >> absolutely. and i think -- successive leaderers in germany have shied away from the fact that german voters who have to pay more if they want this kind of -- more unified europe. they're going to have to pay out of their own pockets for countries like greece if they're going to stay in the euro zone and things not to fall apart.
but this s has been shied away from. it's been con speckiusly avoided by german leaders one after another since helmut kohl. >> not always were -- the strongest power was in europe economic -- economically seen. if you just look at the first years after the currency union and the single currency, you see that germany was the sick man of europe. so that was a completely different talk then. melinda: because those were also the first years following unification. let us now, however, turn to the present. in the past few years, it has looked as though helmut kohl might live long enough to see the house that he had built shaken absolutely to its foundations. let's look at a few of the crises that europe has been facing. >> brexit. this week, european and british representatives began talks on the terms of britain's withdrawal from the e.u. a year after the referendum on leaving
the union. brexit means the e.u. will lose ne of its strongest members. refugees. the question of how to deal with the hundreds of thousands of refugees is becoming a fateful one for the continent. countries continually squabble over who should take on how many refugugees. eastern eururopeans states such as poland and hungary reject the plan to spread the burden among individual members. debt crisis. the effects of the global financial crisis are still divisive for europe, both economically and politically. southern european countries like greece, spain, portugal, and italy, are struggling to get their debts and high unemployment rates under control. brexit. refugees, zists. will they destroy kohl's urope? melinda: alan posener, let's begin with the debt crisis. in fact, that was the issue on
which helmut kohl most pointedly criticized hihis form protege angela merkel toward the end of his life. what do you think? you said in your opening statement that she had now has the opportunity to repair the damage. what exactly needs to be done and do you think it will get done? >> yeah. well, i think we need to progress toward closer political union within the euro zone. everyone said this. ok. well, you're right. there was little appetite for that outside germany and inside germany. now our main partner, france, has a leader in emanuel macron who said just that. we know the outlines of this. it means a real banking union. it means -- it means -- it means a common financial policy represented by a common financial minister in the euro zone. melinda: which angela merkel has just said she might be willing to embark on. >> exactly. and it means if you have that,
it means a transfer union to the southern states to get them out of the fix they're in. and this is going to be paid as tony said is going to be paid out of german taxpayers' pockets. merkel nk that once wins the election in september and with some trepidation she will then she can squander the rest of her political capital because she will not stand on re-election in putting this through. i think there's a good chance it will happen. i think europe actually inspires -- in spite of all these problems is actually in a better state now than it was this time last year. melinda: lawyers, many people are looking to the election of a pro-european french president and to the clear interaction between him and angela merkel. as a revival of that franco-german tandem that used to drive europe. but can it still drive a much wider european union, expanded eastward, not least, thanks to
helmut kohl, with very different divisions than the old europe of the west? >> well, that is the problem. friendship between germany and france is essential for europe and that is clear. but when it comes to agreement of things, how to go on with europe, you have to consider that eastern europe has a place that completely different game. northern europe, finland, the netherlands, all these countries have different interests. and they won't go under the will of germany and france. and as they did before. so if you look at the past, germany and france, stood for different groups of countries. france for the southern understanding of europe and how to go on. and germany for the northern. now you have eastern understanding. you have a completely different british understanding of
things. so bringing all this together means to find something how to -- you have to develop a common understanding which must be on a lower basis than what we had before between germany and france. so that is the difference. and it is not enough to have macron in paris and probably macron in berlin. melinda: tony patterson, european leaders are meeting at this very moment as we speak. and later on, they are going to be hearing teresa may talk about her strategy for brexit. if we look back one year at the time of the brexit referendum, many people thought it was the death knell of the european union. things do look rather different today. in fact, in his invitation letter for this, e.u. council president donald tusk said people are beginning to see europe once again as the solution and not the problem.
would you say that the e.u. nonetheless has gotten its mojo back? >> yeah. i would. i would say that we've had donald trump and we've had brexit. these things concentrate the mind wonderfully when you got these exterior threats. and make people think very hard and of course la pen. make people think very hard about what europe means to them. and we've seen this movement or -- all across europe. that sprung up on sunday demonstrations. people are actually begun to think much more seriously about europe and what they want out of it. and that's a good thing. melinda: but people -- >> half of the french electorate didn't vote. so i think you have to take into consideration that people s not people if you -- the agitated -- >> la pen was defeated massively. macron got in. in austria they got in. there's been a rethink at least
among the voters that count to get these people in. to make -- europe is being seen in a more positive light than it was a year ago definitely. melinda: yes. and in fact surveys also seem to indicate that the pew institute in the u.s. has just done a public opinion survey throughout europe that showed a significant rise in support. i wondered alan posener as i was thinking about the state funeral that was about to occur whether an event like that a. funeral for a great european, can be part of a regeneration of that european consciousness that people so often say is lacking? >> well, i hate to put a damper at this point. but the reason why kohl wanted, it was his will. he wanted a state -- he didn't want a german state funeral and wanted a european funeral. one of the reasons he didn't want angela merkel to speak at his funeral and she is going to speak even so. so that's rather a terrible sort of domestic tragedy. i wouldn't go so far. symbolic as this may be, it is
down to the nitty-gritty. it is down to the nuts and bolts. and you're right. it is down to integrating different ideas of europe. and this europe will be more varied. it has to be. we're not going to have -- the euro zone any time soon and germany has to be -- melinda: let me take -- we're running out of time. briefly take us back to where our title whether kohl's legacy is in danger, yes or no? ursula. >> under threat. >> yeah. under threat. but there's silver linings. melinda: thank you very much. and we will end our show with silver linings and with a warm thanks to all of you for being with us today. and to all of you out there, thanks for tuning in and see you soon. before. it's kind of private,
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